The new route for the South Beach Local, the 25-cent commuter bus that connects Belle Isle to Publix, the Bass Museum, the beach and runs north and south on Washington and Alton/West Avenue, goes into effect today.
As Belle Isle Blog told you a week or so ago, Miami-Dade Transit and SBL fans hope the changes will make this ride more direct and more convenient and lure more Belle Isle residents to hop aboard. If not, it’s quite possible the county and the city will decide to severe the island from the SBL route, which has high ridership elsewhere on South Beach.
Belle Isle was added to the SBL route less than two years ago, the result of heavy lobbying from the Belle Isle Residents Association, which believes it is an important neighborhood amenity. But it often loops Island Avenue and Venetian Way on Belle Isle and drops off and picks up only a rider or two — if at all.
To recap the changes in the route, which you can review on this handy map:
- Half the buses from Belle Isle go directly to Collins Park (the library and Bass Museum) on Dade Boulevard and 17th Street (Convention Center, City Hall, Macy’s, Lincoln Road, Fillmore/Gleason Theater, Holocaust Memorial, Botanical Gardens, the beach). The buses then head south on Washington Avenue to South Pointe before coming back up Alton Road. There is a stop at the new Big Box Mall (Best Buy, Ross, Staples, Publix) and Whole Foods on the way north on Alton and West avenues.
- The other half of the buses–the ones that don’t now go directly to Collins Park–will go directly to Publix at Sunset Harbor, and then continue down West Avenue after leaving Publix. As before, everyone gets off the bus at Publix, so one has to catch the next bus going down West to access Whole Foods, the Fifth & Alton Mall and other destinations on West and Lower Alton Road.
There also are new bus shelters along the way, including one on Belle Isle and the one built at Publix, which give you a chance to keep dry in our summer downpours. We’ll keep you posted on ridership, which will take some time to grow — if that actually happens.